Alleged jail beating investigation under way
Harrison County Prosecutor Dennis Byrd Monday sent a formal request to the Indiana State Police to investigate the April 8 alleged beating of an inmate, Tony L. Smith, at the Harrison County Jail in Corydon.
‘Tony Smith allegedly went unattended for hours and had to get an outside source to call for help,’ Byrd, in the letter, said.
A copy of the letter also was hand delivered to Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick.
Also Monday, the Harrison County Board of Commissioners approved a letter to be sent to Deatrick concerning the incident.
The board held a special meeting to take care of claims that were overlooked at its last meeting, and before it adjourned, in the other county business portion of the agenda, legal counsel John E. Colin read the letter addressed to the sheriff.
‘As you know, the inmates and their safety are the responsibility of the sheriff and we request that you take the steps necessary to comply with the Indiana State Police investigation and any request they may have as to how the injuries might have occurred,’ the letter said.
Commissioner James Goldman, in an interview before the meeting, said Smith was severely beaten and suffered a number of injuries, including a collapsed lung and broken ribs, nose and vertebrae, before he made his way back to his bed area. He then tried to push the emergency button near his bed.
‘As I understand it, there was no response,’ Goldman said. ‘That’s when he used the phone to call his wife.’
Tony’s wife, Barbara, notified the sheriff’s department after hearing from her husband.
Goldman said the incident occurred in the early evening hours, but Smith wasn’t taken to the hospital until after 10 p.m.
He said he hoped Smith, who was taken to Harrison County Hospital in Corydon, was doing well.
‘My biggest concern is the corrections officers not making regular rounds,’ Goldman said.
The letter written to Deatrick said that the commissioners are particularly concerned that there was apparently a long period of time where jailers were not aware of the injuries and were not responsive to the inmate.
‘As such, we request that you comply with the criminal investigation of the persons responsible for the inmate’s injuries, as well as take whatever steps necessary to ensure that similar incidents do not happen again and that all jail employees are following all appropriate protocol,’ the letter concluded.
Goldman said video has been uploaded from the night of the event and copies have been made for the county’s insurance carrier, the state police and the sheriff’s department.
Goldman said he has not yet viewed the tape.
Byrd said Monday afternoon that he didn’t have any specifics regarding what took place in the jail other than what he included in the letter to the state police, which said that some person or person(s) allegedly beat Smith inside the jail. He said it took just a short time before the Indianapolis bureau of the state police gave the go-ahead for the Sellersburg post to start an investigation into the matter.